Identifying the signs of an official document of great importance for the field of criminal law because the criminal code there are offences associated with the concept. In the theory of criminal law is used two main approaches to deciphering the term "official document".

The first approach is narrow and connects the official documents with the sources of their origin. In accordance with this official theory can only be those documents that come from the state and municipal authorities. More popular now is a broad approach, according to which official documents may come from governmental, commercial or even private sector that is the source of their origin does not matter.

Proper clearance and photo identification

One of the main features of the official document is its proper execution and a certificate. If certain rules for registration of documents provided for in legal acts, the official document must comply with them (for example, the rules for notarization of documents, rules of registration of powers of attorney).

If special rules are not available, for the recognition of official document is sufficient compliance with the requirements to its design. Usually among these requirements included the condition of the availability of all the necessary requisites (stamp, signature, stamp of a certain kind, formal or letterhead).

Meaningful signs an official document

Proper and official photo identification document is its formal basis, but in the current judicial practice, a mandatory condition is recognized and the availability of meaningful sign. This symptom is that an official document should in some way affect the legal relationship. It can create certain rights or to impose specific duties.

In addition, several official documents certify the legal facts, which entail certain consequences (this property has most of the procedural documents). The unity of formal and substantive features, each of which must be present in the official document forms a modern interpretation of this concept in legal theory and practice.